Former Galea assistant admits guilt in drug case
Adrian Humphreys, National Post · Friday, Jun. 25, 2010
BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Canadian assistant to prominent Toronto sports doctor Anthony Galea -- who is charged in the United States with steroid distribution and suspected of treating dozens of professional athletes -- tearfully admitted in court she brought black market performance enhancing drugs and equipment across the border for her boss.
"It was a lapse of judgment on my part. He was my employer," Mary Anne Catalano, 32, of Toronto, said before breaking down, revealing her feelings of betrayal.
"He was someone I've known since I was 15 years old," she said, wiping away tears. "I didn't think he would put me in this position."
Catalano has been co-operating with authorities as they investigate Galea, who they say treated athletes from Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the Professional Golfers' Association at his office in Toronto and during house calls in the United States. Yesterday's proceedings in a federal court did not reveal any of his famous clients.
Rodney Personius, Catalano's attorney, said she would not be commenting publicly "because the investigation is ongoing and the government has made it clear it doesn't want the names disclosed."
Catalano is talking to government officials, however, and her co-operation will earn her a steep reduction in her punishment for lying to U.S. border guards.
On Sept. 14, 2009, Catalano pulled her car up to a customs booth on the American side of the Peace Bridge at Buffalo. She said she was going to meet her boss at a medical conference in Washington, D.C.
She explained that the bag of medical supplies, which included vials of human growth hormone and Actovegin, a centrifuge and syringes, was for display at the conference.
Her ruse soon evaporated, however, and she told the border agents she was really meeting Galea to treat a professional athlete. She said she packed the bag following a checklist he gave her.
Catalano had brought such equipment across the border more than 20 times before and met pro athletes in their homes or hotel rooms with Galea for treatment. She had also brought supplies back to Toronto from Germany for Galea, court heard.
Sometimes the athletes came to his Toronto office for treatment but when he travelled to meet them, the athlete paid for their travel and arranged their hotel accommodations, court heard. He provided platelet-rich plasma therapy, where the client's blood is extracted, put through a centrifuge to separate the plasma and injected into a knee to accelerate healing, and "cocktail" injections.
Computer authorities found more than $200,000 in invoices for Galea's services on Catalano's computer.
Despite Galea's international reputation -- his claimed client list that includes Tiger Woods, Donovan Bailey and Alex Rodriguez, although there is no indication he provided them banned substances -- he is not licensed to provide medical services in the United States.
Catalano's co-operation and plea to lying to border guards means she will likely avoid serving jail time when she is sentenced in October.
She told Judge Richard Arcara that she now works as an office manager of a high-performance sports medicine firm that is not related to Galea.
She has not spoken to Galea since her arrest, said her Canadian lawyer, Calvin Barry.